Social networks throughout the years

Social networks throughout the years

Eliana Steinberg
Life Editor

Ever since our sticky fingers touched the keys for the first time- we’ve been networking. We created avatars, beat our previous high scores and eventually signed our lives away on the dotted line of Facebook.com. It seems like every fiber of our being has been pixilated…

Here’s a list of every social networking site we’ve wasted too much time on over the years, in chronological order:

America Online

Founded in 1983

At age nine I didn’t know Internet existed outside the blue border of my America Online homepage. I dreamt of hearing the familiar “You’ve got mail,” despite the fact that all my incoming emails were spam for hair implants.  On America Online we learned our current events from KOL celebrity coverage and roamed the endless World Wide Web under the protection of parental buffers. It was the first date of our bumpy relationship with the Internet, a partner we are still somehow tolerating. We jumbled the letters of our names and birthdates and created screennames that many of us still use today. Hey there, Bballer97 and FreckleGrl800.

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Neopets

Founded in 1999

We were eased into the idea of social networking slowly, with websites like Neopets. There we created fantasy avatars of ourselves and amicably interacted with other purple dragons, all while secretly hoping to steal their gold coins. The site functioned only because of our lack of homework and our juvenile aggression that made winning tetherball such a big deal.

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LiveJournal

Founded in 1999

This was one of the first websites that allowed people to create an Internet personality of him or herself that didn’t have wings or webbed feet. Profiles, rather than cartoon characters, were updated and played with. Here, we came to the conclusion that our ideas and emotions were important enough to be broadcasted across an entire network of both strangers and friends. I suppose websites like these were the start of an obsession with reflecting our identities in an online profile, in manipulating our public image. We tweak and edit these websites to keep our cyber persona up to date with the happenings of ourselves IRL. Or are we changing ourselves to match our  profile?

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Myspace – (Make your best “Myspace Face!”)

Founded in 2003

I think I used to watch too much “To Catch a Predator ” because I once firmly believed that the creation of a Myspace account led to an inevitable murder. For a while I convinced my friends to resist signing up. I encouraged the comeback of Solitaire and Disney Channel online games. But as I approached middle school, it became obvious that a person didn’t exist if they didn’t have a URL to match. Myspace was confusing and difficult to maneuver. People used emoticons and symbols as their display names, which made finding a friend near impossible. Plastered on the bottom of every profile was a glaring “Top Friends” box. Birthday gifts and playdates were tallied, as friends ultimately ranked each other by popularity. The competition results were nailed under a picture of Hillary Duff in the “Hero” section. But now, the ashes of Myspace burn with vengeance against Mark Zuckerberg. The complicated layout of the website has been changed to look like, well… Facebook. But sadly for Tom, I don’t think he’ll be making a mass amount of new friends anytime soon—unless anyone wants to start the return of Myspace?!

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A sample Facebook profile in 2007.

Facebook

Founded in 2004

Ahh, the website that consumes every moment of our lives. I remember signing up, lying that I was eighteen. It was said that Myspace was for high schoolers and Facebook was for college students. Now both sites are used by a spectrum of ages, from kids in elementary school to our grandparents. Even household pets have been known to occasionally poke their owner. You know the phrase: “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” I feel like we can now ask . . . if it wasn’t on Facebook this morning, did it actually happen?

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Formspring

Founded in 2009

By making a Formpsring you’re basically creating a gossip website about yourself…

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Chatroulette– (No appropriate screenshot could be found for this article)

Founded in 2009

This strange form of communication became popular last year. Suddenly, we were bombarded by dancing bananas and naked men. We’re drawn to it because it’s disturbing, because it makes us jump. I guess we sign-in for the jolt, the thrill of meeting a stranger’s face in the comfort of our room. But the website has grown into that of a live pornography show. I’m afraid for the children that are being “next-ed” right now…

In the last 10 years we’ve  bounced from site to site, learning more with each new tab. The internet is changing before our glazed eyes, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!